• Message From the President, David Livingston, MD

    President’s Perspective 

    Rejuvenated and refreshed! A perfect sentiment both as spring is finally here and I am on the way home from the AAST program and board meetings. This allowed me, as well as the board, to see a preview of the outstanding research that will be presented at our meeting in Chicago in September. It also allows me to reflect on the amazing amount of work and activities that come from the various committees that comprise the AAST. And the best part was that the entire process returned to an in-person event. How wonderful it was to catch up with the leaders outside of a zoom window! It was like 2019 all over again.

    One of the themes of my time as president was to further continue the AAST’s path toward greater transparency in the workings of the organization and greater inclusion of all members. During the better part of the three decades that I have been fortunate to be an AAST member, the relative opaqueness of how the organization operated has not been an uncommon theme. Under the leadership of our recent past presidents, this veil has gradually lifted and while I am certain there is a long way to go, I would like to take this opportunity to highlight some of the ways we have further pushed the process along. 

    The first change has been related to opening the process to join and participate in committees. In the past, many members felt that getting on a committee appeared random or “difficult”. This process was changed, and committee participation is now open to one and all. What is needed is to fill out the committee request form and you will be assigned to a committee. While you may not get your first choice due to numbers and distribution, anyone who wants to participate and contribute is welcome. Of course, getting on the committee is only the first step. It is your contribution and participation that is noticed and will help, should you desire, further leadership. So as we head into a new academic year, give some thought as to what committee you wish to be on and how you want to contribute to the AAST. You will be welcome.

    The second change is the numerous volunteering opportunities we have created throughout the year. For some with limited time, there are many “micro” volunteering opportunities with many committees. Multiple calls for volunteers for the upcoming annual meeting resulted in over three dozen members who will be invited as discussants, poster professors, or moderators. Another new and innovative opportunity was the creation of an abstract mentor program, AASTReview, to pair more senior members with those that wanted help with their abstract submission to the meeting. While only a minority of members chose to avail themselves of this initiative, those who did had an acceptance rate THREE TIMES greater than those who did not.  While the p-value may not be <0.05 due to small numbers (the classic Type II error), the program committee reviewed many abstracts with some crucial pieces of information missing that would have benefited from a “fresh pair of eyes”. I am certain this initiative will grow in the future. Moreover, I know there is no better feeling than helping a junior colleague with an abstract that gets on a meeting and this initiative is just another excellent opportunity for more seasoned members to participate in the AAST. 

     Lastly and not to steal our esteemed Program Chair, Dr. Karen Brasel’s thunder, I am incredibly excited about the program for our upcoming meeting. Under her leadership, the program is outstanding, diverse, and includes the breadth and depth of our specialty. From the pre-sessions to the lunch sessions, papers to quickshots to posters, there is a wealth of educational material for everyone and demonstrates the best of what the AAST has to offer. We could not be in better hands under Dr. Brasel’s leadership.

    As you can see there continue to be exciting changes ahead. Keep looking at the many and varied communications from the AAST for additional opportunities to get involved and to further understand the pathways to engagement and leadership. I continue to honor and humbled to lead the AAST. Take care of yourselves and each other and best wishes on the close of this academic year.


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